I swear I'm not another Millennial who needs something to complain about, but TLC's ‘My 600-lb Life' may not be the guilt-free obsession that I once thought it was.
With over a month off this past Winter break, I had more than enough time to waste channel surfing. One morning, I had emotionally prepared myself for at least two hours of ‘The Hills' re-runs when I stumbled across a true diamond in the rough: TLC's ‘My 600-lb Life.'I had seen snippets of it here and there but otherwise, I hadn't really given it much thought or attention. Within a few minutes of watching, my eyes were glued to the screen as 600-plus-lb people, sometimes families or couples, spent their days in bed gorging themselves with food.I was fascinated as to how these people allowed themselves to survive three to five times the average weight of a healthy human being and the psychology that fueled these behaviors. The thought that their skeletons are roughly the same size as everyone else's, yet they were carrying over 600 pounds, was unfathomable. The show goes through the trials and tribulations of morbidly obese people seeking weight loss surgery, showing their daily lives which often consist of laying in bed, showering and moving with assistance, and occasionally riding in the car (where most occupy the entire backseat).
One day when I was deep in the throws of another ‘My 600-lb Life' bender, my dad walked in and was, too, completely intrigued by the show. He was in awe that people of this size are able to (barely) survive.
While the show managed to garner his attention, he didn't have a review quite as glowing as mine. He thought the show was "exploiting fat people" and making them some sort of spectacle, as opposed to posing their struggle as a relatable experience.
Personally, I think the aim of the show is to provide insight into this population, showing what life is like in their bodies both mentally and physically. My dad didn't necessarily disagree with that idea, but he thought that TLC was milking the extreme experience of this population as a means of entertainment.
He thought the show portrayed these people as primitive, through editing that exposes much of their naked bodies and ultimately makes them seem disgusting. What bothered him the most was that these people almost always grew morbidly obese because of severe abuse, which isn't something that should be considered "entertainment."
Despite the flaws that my Dad found in the show, he too was fascinated and admitted to watching after I returned to school. While his ideas about the show make sense, I still don't think TLC intends to take advantage of the situation in a way that is disrespectful to these people. Instead, I see their mission as a means of reflecting the discomfort and challenges that come from being at such an extreme weight.
Either way, the show has forced me to question what I consider entertainment, regardless of how addicting any program may be. ‘My 600-lb Life' sheds light on a struggle that many are totally unfamiliar with, which is a trope of its own.